06 July 2016

No swimmer will find fault with the baths and conveniences

Thorndon Summer Pool, 2 July 2016

On Saturday 29 November 1924 a new public bathing facility opened in Thorndon, Wellington. The Thorndon Summer Pool has served the city since then, open to the elements and therefore only used for the more temperate months of the year, from late October to early April. For the remainder of the year it looks like the view above: empty until the thermometer rises again. On opening day in 1924 the Evening Post had a thorough report on the new pool, with only a minor gripe to show that everyone's an expert in town planning, even journalists:

The official opening of the new fresh water baths at Thorndon took place at 3 p.m. to-day, when the Mayor (Mr. R. A Wright, M.P.) declared the baths available to the public, who had their first sight of them and afterwards were invited to have a swim, no charge being made on this occasion. The new pool is of the standard length of 33 1-3 yards by 40 feet. The depth ranges from eight feet to three feet. The whole of the sides and bottom are faced in white tiles with lines of green tiles to direct the swimmers. A trough round the sides will provide for clearing the surface water and keeping the baths clean. 
Following the opening, a programme of races arranged by the now revived Thorndon Swimming Club were put on.  
The opinion amongst swimmers is that it will not be very long before alterations will be required at Thorndon. For many years the Te Aro Baths have proved unsatisfactory for the holding of carnivals, one distinct drawback being that spectators were situated so far from the swimmers that it was difficult to follow them. The new baths will be a very distinct improvement in this respect, the spectators being right at the water's edge. However, for the size of carnival and the attendances of spectators that are hoped for in future operations in Wellington, the new baths, it is held by many, should prove quite inadequate in the matter of accommodation for spectators, only one side being gallaried [sic], and both ends and the other side providing no seating accommodation. It is also questionable whether the present number of cubicles will be adequate if the baths prove as popular as they should be. No swimmer will, however, find fault with the baths and conveniences, which are excellent, except that a medium high diving board will be required.
- 'New Baths. Opening at Thorndon', Evening Post, 29 November 1924 
 The official opening the pool, Mr Wright, was a Reform member who was the city's mayor from 1921 to 1925. A little over a month before opening the pool he had also officiated at the opening of the new De Lux Theatre, which we now know as the Embassy Theatre. Following his term as mayor of Wellington, Wright was Minister of Education from 1926 to 1928 in the Reform administration under Gordon Coates.

The Evening Post of 29 November mentions plans in Sydney to build an underground rail network to address the city's traffic problems. It also notes the good sense of good traffic planning for Wellington, an altogether smaller city but one with its own distinct challenges:

Wellington now is in a relative position somewhat resembling Sydney many years ago. The traffic difficulties ahead are becoming apparent. Our city is not likely to grow as the capital of New South Wales has grown, because the New Zealand population is distributed; but we are pressed against the hills as Sydney is not. We should endeavour to apply the lesson while there is yet time, and remodel our traffic routes before the cost becomes prohibitive. It will be more expensive now than twenty years ago, but twenty years hence it will certainly be no cheaper. 
See also:
TransportWellington tramlink, 14 January 2015
Blog: Thorndon Fair 2013, 1 December 2013
Photography: Ans Westra Wellington 1976, 30 June 2013
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